HC Deb 25 May 1883 vol 279 cc887-9

asked the Lord Advocate, Will he inquire into the circumstances under which Hugh Flanagan, a lunatic, was removed under warrant from Glasgow Asylum to Bally-shannon Workhouse as a pauper, the fact of lunacy being only referred to in an indistinct endorsement in red ink which the master said he overlooked; whether he is aware that Flanagan was discharged immediately from the workhouse, and murdered his father; and, whether he will suggest to the Scotch Lunacy Board the propriety of communicating beforehand with the Irish Lunacy Board in all similar cases in which it is proposed to transfer an insane person from Scotland to Ireland, in order that arrangements may be made to receive the patient direct into the proper asylum?


Sir, I have inquired into the case of Flanagan, and find that he was removed on the 21st of December, 1882, from the Greenock Parochial Asylum, where he had been under treatment, to the Union Workhouse, Londonderry, under a warrant of two Justices of the Peace for the City of Glasgow. The authority for transferring an insane pauper from Scotland to Ireland does not rest with the Lunacy Board. I am informed by that Board that the present arrangements by which pauper lunatics are removed from an asylum to a workhouse are not satisfactory. They consider that a lunatic ought to be removed from an asylum to an asylum, or, at least, that sufficient notice of the removal ought to be given to some Irish authority. The rule is that a written statement of the condition of the pauper is handed to the Irish local authorities, which ought, in ordinary cases, to be a sufficient security against the paupers being re- leased when not in a fit condition. I am not prepared to say that without legislation we can insist on further precautions; but we shall consider what can be done.


asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with reference to the case of Hugh Flanagan, who was sent from the Lunatic Asylum at Glasgow as a lunatic in charge of warders and placed in Ballyshannon Workhouse, and who, having been discharged in error by the master, murdered his father, John Flanagan, on Tuesday the 17th April, Whether it is true that the police were informed of the murder immediately after it occurred, and at once communicated with the coroner by telegraph; whether the coroner fixed the following Thursday for the inquest, but neither came nor sent notice until late in the evening of that day; whether he is aware that the parish priest who attended to officiate at the funeral, and the people who came to assist at it, after waiting for hours at great inconvenience, had to go away; whether the inquest was eventually held on the next day, Friday, without the coroner, by two magistrates, and what was the cause of the coroner's non-attendance; whether he is aware that the murdered man went three days in succession to try and get his son committed to an asylum as a dangerous lunatic; and, if he will ascertain whether the magistrates who refused to commit him inquired into the facts of the case?


I have already answered the greater part of this Question. The Coroner was prevented by illness from attending at the time appointed; and two magistrates held the inquest, as empowered by law, after the lapse of two days. I am informed that it is not the case that the murdered man had applied three clays in succession to try and get his son committed as a dangerous lunatic. On the occasion when such an application was made, the magistrates, I am informed, fully investigated the case. I have already explained to the hon. Member, in reply to a former Question, why they refused the application; and, however unfortunate their decision was—viewed in the light of subsequent events—it is difficult to see how they could have acted otherwise, if, as reported to me, neither they, nor the doctor who examined the man before them, believed him to be insane.